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Football: Firth advances to first state title game since 2012

By LUKE O’ROARK | Post Register | Loroark@postregister.com
POCATELLO — Friday’s 2A state semifinal against New Plymouth wasn’t always pretty, but the Firth High School football team will take the win nonetheless.

Firth’s Stockton Giles jumps into the arms of Firth head coach Keith Drake in Friday’s 2A state semifinal game against New Plymouth at Holt Arena. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

The Cougars advanced to the 2A state title game with a 38-16 win over the Pilgrims at Holt Arena, holding New Plymouth to just 105 total offensive yards and two garbage time touchdowns.

Firth (8-3) will play Declo (12-0) for the 2A championship at Holt Arena at 2:45 p.m. Saturday.

“I think the kids believe in each other and the system,” Firth coach Keith Drake said.

Against New Plymouth, Drake said there was a “feeling out period” at first, with Firth not scoring its first offensive touchdown until the 8:50 mark in the third quarter on an 81-yard scamper from Remington Chapman.

After Chapman, who finished with 161 total yards Friday, reached the endzone, though, Stockton Giles and Victor Burkhart scored a combined three rushing touchdowns to help the Cougars garner their first state title game berth since 2012.

“We really enjoy playing defense,” Coby Johnson said. “Our linebackers follow the ball really well and we gotta give credit to our defensive lineman. They take up blocks. Everybody is trying to make good tackles.”

Drake, Chapman and Johnson said Firth has improved its play and, fortunately, stayed healthy since losing to Ririe on Oct 6. The Cougars haven’t lost since then, running past teams during the 2A state playoffs. They enter next week’s championship game having outscored opponents 126-28 the last three games.

And after a slow offensive start, the Cougars sharpened their play in the second half against the Pilgrims.

The three-headed backfield monster of Chapman, Buckhart and Giles accounted for 276 of Firth’s 344 yards of offense.

Meanwhile, the Cougars’ defense held Pilgrim’s quarterback Austin Robinson in check. Robinson finished with 33 yards passing on 24 attempts. He had six completions and three interceptions during the loss.

“Our offense had a rough first half, but our defense made up for that,” said Chapman, sporting a playoff mustache. “During halftime, it was an eye-opener and we needed to get our offense rolling and help our defense out.”

Neither the Pilgrims nor Cougars could buy a yard in the first half, however.

The Pilgrims had 18 total yards of offense in the first half. They ran 22 total plays.

During the ugly first 24 minutes, the only score came from Johnson.

Johnson picked off Robinson and took the interception 32 yards for the only score of the first half with 2:46 left in the second quarter.

Neither offense got closer to the endzone than the opposing 34-yard-line.

Firth’s Remington Chapman carries the ball in Friday’s 2A state semifinal game against New Plymouth at Holt Arena. John Roark/ jroark@postregister.com

The Cougars’ offense didn’t string together much either, turning the ball over on downs twice after crossing midfield and throwing one interception in the Pilgrims’ redzone. Firth finished with 140 yards of offense during the first half.

It took just 45 minutes to get to halftime, as both teams tried to build off their running game.

“If you can score on defense, that’s also a morale deflator to the other team,” Drake said.

But the Cougars’ offense began to gain steam, matching their defensive pressure. 113 of Chapman’s yards came in the second half.

As for the slow start, Chapman and Drake said the Cougars didn’t change much at halftime. They just found success from wearing down the Pilgrims’ defense — leaning on its running backs and stout defensive performance to carry them to their sixth state title game appearance since 1998.

“We didn’t change a whole lot,” Drake said. “We made a couple adjustments on defense. Offensively, we knew they were big in the middle, we just kept working on it. We hurried up a little bit more. We uptempoed and that was one of those scores, but mostly what we did was get a little more to the outside and I think they wore out just a little bit.”

Firth 0 8 22 8 — 38
New Plymouth 0 0 0 16 — 16
Firth — Coby Johnson 32-yard interception return (Colton Mecham 2-point conversion good) 2:46
F — Remington Chapman 81-yard run (Coby Johnson 2-point conversion good) 8:50
F — Victor Burkhart 10-yard run (2-point conversion no good) 4:49
F — Burkhart 1-yard run (Gunner Vasquez to Kylan Adolfson for 2-point conversion) 1:44
F — Stockton Giles 22-yard run (Cob y Johnson 2-point conversion good) 11:49
New Plymouth — Seth Mowder 4-yard run (Travis Jackson 2-point conversion good) 10:19
NP — Mowder 1-yard run (Austin Robinson 2-point conversion good) 5:09
RUSHING — Firth: Remington Chapman 18-162-1, Victor Burkhart 17-79-2, Stockton Giles 4-35-1, Gunner Vasquez 6-(-5), Coby Johnson 5-16. New Plymouth: Austin Robinson 8-34, Teagan Gross 6-14, Seth Mowder 9-38-1, Travis Jackson 1-(-15).
PASSING — Firth: Gunner Vasquez 4-13-57-0-1. New Plymouth: Austin Robinson 6-24-33-0-3.
RECEIVING — Firth: Victor Buckhart 1-34, Coby Johnson 1-24, Remington Chapman 2-(-1). New Plymouth: Tanner Butler 2-21, Garrett Powell 2-11, Teagan Gross 2-1.

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